Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Brown urged to allow vote to ditch unitary plans

Mr Brown will chair an extraordinary meeting of the governing body to discuss the issue. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Mr Brown will chair an extraordinary meeting of the governing body to discuss the issue. Photo / Dean Purcell.

A majority of councillors, the main mayoral contenders and thousands of alienated property owners are calling on Mayor Len Brown to allow a vote to dump controversial housing density plans today.


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As many as 13 of the 21 members of the governing body want to withdraw a proposal to rezone thousands of homes for more intensive development, approved by a handful of councillors last November without consulting affected property owners.

Mr Brown will chair an extraordinary meeting of the governing body to discuss the issue.

A report to the meeting by plans and places general manager John Duguid and authorised by chief executive Stephen Town contains six recommendations noting the Unitary Plan process, community concerns and a request that the council's lawyers stress to the Unitary Plan independent hearings panel the importance of considering fairness issues.

It is not known if Mr Brown will allow a vote on withdrawing the proposed changes.

The meeting will hear from groups on both sides of the debate and the chairs of some local boards, which are opposed to the "out-of-scope" changes, meaning residents did not ask for them in the proposed plan, and there is no formal right of reply.

Councillors Ross Clow and Chris Darby have had a change of heart and indicated they could support 11 councillors who want the proposals withdrawn from the council's latest submission on the Unitary Plan.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse is leading the camp backing the proposed changes going forward to the panel that will consider all the submissions on zoning issues. The panel will make recommendations in July for the council to make final decisions.

Ms Hulse has couched the issue in terms of the need for more homes, built more quickly than before without compromising quality.

Last night, Labour MP and mayoral contender Phil Goff said the council should withdraw its out-of-scope changes if it comes to a vote today.

It should then engage with the affected communities, he said.

Centre-right mayoral contender Vic Crone has said the proposed changes should go on hold for a new mayor and council.

Mr Brown, who is not seeking a third term, has declined to comment.

Mr Duguid said the meeting would respond to concerns.

"Officers have recommended that the council should maintain its current position, but to stress to the ... [panel] it needs to consider issues of natural justice and fairness."

- NZ Herald

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